A Purpose Worth Having


“If purpose is the why, then shared value is the how.”

This was the overwhelming message from SVP CEO, Helen Steel, at the 2019 Shared Value Summit Asia Pacific in Sydney last week.

Addressing an audience of more than 220, including speakers from Canada, the US, Italy and Switzerland; regional partners from Africa and Hong Kong; and special guest, Ms Julie Owens, Federal MP for Parramatta; Ms Steel asserted that shared value was “the engine to deliver on the promise of purpose”.

Reflecting on seven years of Shared Value Summits in Australia and the US, – Ms Steel said that certain words and phrases have resonated each time; from materiality to intentionality, innovation and impact.

“To now be linking shared value to purpose is the most powerful and promising conversation we have had to date,” she said.

Referencing Blackrock CEO Larry Fink’s comments around the relevancy of shared value in Australia, she argued that “not only is it relevant, but the most important conversation for business to be having today”.

Ms Steel expanded on this by outlining what it means to create a purpose worth having; as discussed at the recent Shared Value Leadership Summit in Boston. She impressed that a business’ purpose must be:

  • Significant- Making a meaningful contribution to an unmet societal need
  • Authentic – Reflecting the company’s core values and culture
  • Profitable – Driving measurable value for the company
  • Serious – Increasing accountability across the company

Ms Steel concluded by paying tribute to co-creator of shared value, Professor Michael Porter, and the influence that he has had on her five years with the SVP Asia Pacific, since its inception.

“Michael has inspired me and given me a purpose through the work of the SVP to support each of you on your shared value journeys,” she told the crowd. “I hope that you will come away from this year’s summit as inspired as I am to become better purpose-led organisations that can truly change the world.”